Museum's new curator explores Juneau's relatively fresh history

Field relishes in studying stories of city pioneers

Posted: Monday, March 05, 2007

As a student of history, Addison Field devoted his energy to studying old cultures and places.

But it's the relative newness of Juneau that fascinates him now.

As the new curator of collections and exhibits at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Field will be exploring the art and history of a city that's less than 130 years old and the Native culture that predates it.

"There are folks around who remember the pioneers, the folks who came and settled in this area," Field said. "That's really spectacular. It lends to a really good oral history and a lot of good stories. Exploring that as a historian is a lot of fun."

Originally from Vermont, Field moved to Southeast Alaska after earning a masters degree in museum studies from George Washington University in 2003. In graduate school, he met his wife, Frances, a former Ketchikan resident.

Before then, he spent four years in the Army, stationed in Hawaii. His travels exposed him to art and history, he said.

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The Fields have lived in various towns in southeast Alaska for the past several years. They spent a year in Ketchikan, then Field took a job with the Alaska State Museum in Juneau in 2004. He moved to Haines for about two years to be the director of the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center. He returned to Juneau in January.

"Being in a community museum in the Southeast means you have an opportunity to do so much more than you ever trained to do," Field said. "You have an opportunity to wade in, get your hands dirty, and do some really fun museum projects."

One of the goals at the city museum is to redesign the mining galleries. Museum leaders are considering moving the temporary exhibit gallery and "streamlining the stories we tell in our mining galleries," he said.

"Over the last 25 years, we've collected a lot more mining objects," Field said. "We can tell different stories with those objects, and we'll be putting together a team to talk about mining and Juneau history."

The museum's latest exhibit, "12x12," features the square-foot works of local artists. It will run through March 28.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at

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